The additional costs for Boston Police staffing for the many protests that have unfolded in Boston – mostly in the downtown areas – since late May are close to $6 million over and above normal police staffing costs for this time of year.
As of this week, Boston Police reported to the newspaper that police costs over and above normal costs for responding to protests since May 29 now run at $5,795,518.21. Much of that comes from overtime costs, and there have been some “Full Call Up” situations where all officers on the force were called to respond if protests became large enough or violence was anticipated.
That comes as there is currently a debate about the use of overtime within the Police Department, and after the Police budget was diverted within the current Fiscal Year 2021 budget to reflect calls for restructuring police response.
A City Council Ways and Means hearing on police overtime expenditures is scheduled for July 28 at 10 a.m. under Chair Kenzie Bok. It is likely that the costs of responding to protests this year will be included in that conversation.
Several City Councilors and some community activists were asked to respond to the expenditure with their own thoughts on it, but none gave comment except District 2 Councilor Ed Flynn.
Flynn said he believes it is important to maintain such expenditures when people exercise their rights to free speech.
“I believe that when we have protests and demonstrations, it’s also important that we have a police presence to maintain public safety for all, including our protestors exercising their rights, our neighbors, residents, businesses and institutions – so that the city is able to respond quickly to any emergencies or incidents,” he said.
Mayor Martin Walsh did also comment on the matter, and he said spending that money was a primary function of government – giving people their Constitutional right to peaceably voice their opinion and also making sure they were protected by police in doing so.
“Protests in Boston have been centered on the fundamental issue of racial justice, and I support the residents who have been making their voices heard peacefully throughout our City, and the public safety officials who have been protecting residents’ right to assemble and advocate for change,” he said.